Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Catechesis on Mary, the Mother of God

This post comes from the Rosary Army webste (http://www.rosaryarmy.com/), a site that has some interesting catechetical postings.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Saturday Morning Catechesis: Mother of God

Posted by Mickey Addison @ 12:00 AM

On New Year's Day, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. As with all Marian pieties and dogmas, it is a celebration that points to something about Christ.

Non-Catholics sometimes have the most difficult time with the Marian dogmas, perhaps because they take them at face-value without looking at why these dogmas are part of Sacred Tradition in the first place. I have a friend, for example, who has no issues with the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but struggles mightily with Marian dogmas.

In a sense, acceptance of Marian dogmas makes belief in the Real Presence easier.

Our Blessed Lady has been addressed by the title, "Mother of God" since at least A.D. 407. St John Chrysostom wrote a Eucharistic Prayer that included the title of Mother of God, presumably in congruence with the popular piety of the time. This title was not without controversy, however, even in the 5th century.

The Nestorian Heresy, led by a man named Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (A.D. 428-431) postulated that Our Lady only gave birth to Jesus' human nature, and therefore deserved only the title, "Mother of Jesus." Nestorius theorized that Jesus was "inhabited" by the Divine Word; essentially that the person of Jesus Christ was a sort of "possessed" body where the Word dwelt inside Jesus "as a temple."

Of course, this theory leads to all sorts of heretical ideas, not the least of which is that Jesus Christ was two people and that the flesh He sacrificed was not sanctified or elevated by union with the divine.

The Nestorian heresy was refuted initially by St. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria (d. 440), "It was not that an ordinary man was born first of the Holy Virgin, on whom afterwards the Word descended; what we say is that, being united with the flesh from the womb, (the Word) has undergone birth in the flesh, making the birth in the flesh His own..."

At the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 finally settled the matter, declaring: "If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Theotokos) (since she begot according to the flesh the Word of God made flesh), let them be anathema [despised]."

The Council declared once and for all that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Divine Second Person of the Trinity, true God and true Man united together. The Blessed Virgin gave birth to a single Person with two natures...not two persons with two natures. As the Catechism succinctly teaches, 'Mary is truly "Mother of God" since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself.' (#509)

The first day of the New Year is a splendid opportunity to reflect on the marvel of the Word Made Flesh, and the woman He took His flesh from when He came among us.
Mickey Addison is a career military officer, and has been a parish level catechist and Catholic Scripture Study, Int'l leader.
He and his wife have two children. He can be contacted at addisoncrew@gmail.com.

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